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Thomas Mann; Norman Ornstein Education. (2012) 'It's Even Worse Than it Looks How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism.'

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Thomas Mann; Norman Ornstein  Education.  (2012) 'It's Even  
   Worse Than it Looks How the American Constitutional System...  

    March 17, 2013
    6:00 - 7:30pm EDT  

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remains a controversial issue to this day. various people want to explore whether this was the goal. could the british capture man? we have records in the 1770s of benjamin franklin educated themselves and one of the ruling says that impressment weslaco and he rode on the margins of this ruling all kinds of sarcastic comment against the whole british system of government, which he decided that weslaco, then they showed it didn't really support liberty. ..
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on the margins of the ruling and making up his own solution. diligently she had recorded in his own hand line by line. lessons that we can take from the issue of a impressment and how it works during the 18th-century. i titled the book of the evil necessity because britain found itself in a compromise position. in order to establish and
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continue the world dominance that it had, in essence it had to violate one of its own principles. the british liberty and the 18th century, something that as americans we sometimes forget. so when they resorted to impressment, this system is so controversial. one of the primary idea is to read defined what's necessary for them and whether it is worth it.
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thomas mann and enormous or steam examine partisan politics in the u.s. government and content level of hyper partisanship has resulted in a dysfunctional political process marked by adherence to the political party platforms above all else. this is about an hour and a half >> i think we are ready to begin. i am a senior fellow here at brookings. i moderate a lot of panels. the greatest insult ever to me was from david brooks who said my eyes light up at the word panel discussion. normally even when i have strong views i try to be fair and balanced about things that i want to confess up front i am not balanced because of my feelings on norman, they are my favorite people in the world and i cannot tell you how excited i
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am that they have become celebrities. i think it's a great thing for them and for the public and i am just honored to be there with susan and mickey who have agreed to join this great discussion. i want to begin by saying that this event is being alive webcast and the attendees encouraged to tweet the hash tag -- i've never gotten to see that before -- hash tag even worse as erik -- is where you should send. at the conclusion of the event. are there any other announcements i need to make? i think that we can just go straight into the main event. tom is a senior fellow here at brookings and is the chair. he was the head of the government studies program and he got his b.a. in political
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science from the university of florida a and his ph.d. from the university of michigan said he speaks for the heartland of our great country. >> and he saved the automobile industry. [laughter] >> he was opposed to the production. [laughter] >> shia lectures frequently as all of you know and this on every radio and television show known to humankind and p and norm have often competed in any given year in all of our media. norm is a resident scholar at the american enterprise institute for public research and is an analyst for cbs. he writes a column for roll call and has written for every publication on the face of the earth. he's been on the news hour with jim lehrer, nightline, charlie rose. it is pure -- he has another heartland from the university of
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minnesota and an m.a. from the university of michigan which is where you guys met. i just have to say that one of the reasons why i think that tom and norm got so much attention to that is because they have been spending their entire lives being so moderate and reasonable that when they get mad, they're really must be something wrong. so why don't i go to norman and tom first and then i will introduce suzanne and mickey edwards. it's a great honor to be your colleague. >> thank you so much. suzanne and mickey, i really appreciate you coming and all of you for coming and participating in this event. norma and i have been friends and colleagues and collaborators for over 40 years. i know it shows on me but it doesn't show on him.
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people often ask me when we collaborate what is the division of labor. finally i got a book cover that pretty much leaves it out. i mean, you see the subtitle how the constitutional system collided with the new politics of extremism. on the left is your constitution based. slightly worn on the right is that harsh color of extremism. with the politics of extremism. i divided the base already. i also want to announce that this will be our last public appearance before entering a witness protection program. maybe we should follow the full
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script and enlist a child who blurt out the emperor wears no clothes but we were not smart enough to do that. actually, what i want to say is the response to the first ten days or so or less of the commentary i've learned what it means to go viral. it was a very instructive lesson. but it's been very heartening. maybe another 5% of constructive criticism and another 9% think you guys for saying this. prominent among the scores of people who e-mail less and were in the 90% are self identified
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republicans, ordinary citizens and some he elected officials and party activists as well and a fair number of reporters, both of whom take a little heat from us in this volume. and i actually really heartened by it. i think it is fair to say that we feel each passing day brings more reinforcement of the argument we make in this book. the latest of course was richard lugar yesterday in indiana to not so much the fact that in a-year-old man that served, what, seven terms msm at, six running for the seventh term lost his election. it happens but it was the nature of the case against him that he
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had collaborated with the enemy when the enemy was an asset that is the barack obama that he voted for the supreme court justice nominated by obama and supported president bush's t.a.r.p. program. it really is quite telling to see how his opponent undermined him with going over to the dark side. it tells a lot about the problematics of our politics right now. then we have that incident on the campaign trail. i think it was yesterday when in the town hall meeting said a woman got up and talked about the abuse of the constitutional president and a lot is how we should be tried for treason.
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people make sharp statements. i remember john mccain of reacting to a statement like that in 2008 and just drawing the line and saying what kind of a person mr. obama was. in this case mr. obama just passed it by. the sentiments are so strong to confront and engage that. he said when asked by a reporter later to be true no, of course not. but it's not -- for third, the house republican budget committee is now proceeding to do two things. one is to insist on lower overall discretionary spending. then what is agreed to infil law that came at the end of that dreadful process of holding the debt ceiling hostage.
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so unilaterally declared that to the floor for cuts and not a ceiling and now it is a way of avoiding the sequestration of the defense budget to the remarkable set of additional cutbacks and means tested programs of one sort or another. i even solve the most analytic reporters that david rogers of politico showed in the course of writing about that. and of course we had yesterday a successful republican filibuster on the senate democratic plan extending the law were student loan rate in financing it in a
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particular way. i know in "the new york times" this is the 21st successful republican filibuster in this congress. most of it is not if you will consequential and the filibuster was in the first two years because there was a republican house and democratic wishes from the white house and the senate are not likely to be realized but the fact is that it has been so commonplace and it's taken for granted in most press reports the word filibuster never is elevated to the story itself because it is a procedural motion. it didn't get the 60 votes it needed. it shows you how much the filibuster has become so routine. our argument is that it can be summarized briefly. we have a mismatch, serious
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mismatch between the political parties which are highly polarized, internal unified, hyper strategic in their partisan behavior in congress that is parliamentary, relentlessly oppositional when they are out of government, out of the presidency but they are operating not of the parliamentary system where that kind of behavior can be quite useful and productive but in a separation of power system with routine filibusters, with midterm elections, with the possibility of a divided party government that frankly is such a mismatch that it doesn't work now. the second point that has got the most attention is the will polarization that excess between the parties is and sat -- is and
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symmetric. it's really gone off the tracks that has become an insurgent that is more ideological extreme and protect several generations of economic and social policy stretching back as far as a century ago that the compromise down at the level of the individual republican fire who doesn't have much use for fact and evidence and science and perhaps most important of all the legitimacy of the opposition party. this is something we've had individuals say but never has it seemed to be accepted by the leadership of one of our two
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major parties. the third point that we make is you never fix these things without the public stepping up and running in parties that have gone a mess, but alas the complications of accountability in the system number one, and number two, the way in which these events and arguments and battles are portrayed to the public through not a partisan press which has its own all aspects but through the mainstream press by respected, able, highly professional reporters that leads to a phony balance equivalence they are both implicated that we argue has the effect of demobilizing
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and disarming the public that might otherwise be in the position to do something about it. thank you so much. now i will turn to norm. when they described this book to me i said this book is just like that eric clapton album that became -- was imitated many times so why give you normal unplugged. >> i want to start with the plug. this is the book that should be capturing the attention by those that care about our political system. e.j. has a book coming out which is is called are divided political part. >> the battle for the american ideal in an age of discontent. now you know why i love these guys and i haven't suggested a subtitle, richard lugar is the
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dmv. >> thank you. >> please buy them both and they both make a great holiday gifts. fall thursday follows. estimate ej started by talking about these partnerships with tom and i and over that period of time we've tried every scrupulously to be fair minded and to not take sides. we call them as we see them but for me it's always been a point of pride that i could go and give a talk to people and say we couldn't tell from that what side you were on. so, 40 years we have done that and writing this book was not an easy thing to do because that is going to change some. there are going to be some people who see us, see me in particular as having taken sides. so i often get asked why did you do this? and i think the fact is for both
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of us we spent 40 years building some capital and a reputation and they're comes a point you feel like you need to use that capital because the stakes are too high, the consequences are great, and we both believe that we are had a really critical point in this political system. we face huge problems in the country. short term and long term. and if we are going to leach the system of problem solvers and in up with people who say things like richard murdock, the new republican nominee for the senate in indiana said yesterday which is my idea of compromise is on the move to accept my position. if that is how we are going to be faced with making policy decisions that are going to be very tough and painful for americans as all major changes in social policy whether the expanded government or contract government do they disrupt people's lives almost by
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definition and you can't make that work and create a sense of legitimacy or people face short-term pain for the promise that will improve their lives or the lives of their children in the future if we get rid of people like richard lugar in this process and emerge with people who have a different perspective. the fact that we have gone through a number of years that we've been moving in that direction and the people are not held accountable there has not been a price to pay for obstruction, for obstruction sake, for hostage taking and for a lot of other bad behavior's in politics motivated us not just to write this book but also to take on a press corps that we think has to a much greater degree than it should fallen back into a position of saying
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we've reports those slides. i think part of this is because we have seen the emergence over the last 20 years of very substantial and effective lobbies on both sides that they have started with accuracy in the media and moved to fair. journalists like most of us don't like criticism that may be for the most of us journalists don't like criticism and in particular mainstream press that has for many years been hit with the idea that it's a liberal press to be hit hard from the right with the idea that you are tilting in that direction brings about a desire to overbalance. and in this case is an overbalance where the value becomes as we have heard from many reporters our obligation is to report both sides of the story. and my response to that is all right so if you have a hit and run driver do you say that when he hit and run driver says it's his fault he stepped into the
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crosswalk that that has equivalence with the victim and that is the obligation it's to the truth. and in this case we have decided to report what we think is the truth right now. and that truth reflects not one party. i have no desire to carry water for the democratic party. and i have no desire to simply turn the republicans into a version of the democratic party. we need vibrant parties that have different centers of gravity and that compete with a lot of vigor and bumping heads together but also have an understanding of the nature of the political process is different from the parliamentary system. it's a system where if you are going to reach a level where people in this extended the public accept those decisions are made you have to find a broad bipartisan leadership consensus and that means collaboration.
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it doesn't mean here is what we are going to do and if you want to come to us, that's fine. if you don't, screw you. it doesn't mean that we are going to obstruct because that is the way to get ahead even if it brings significant damage to the country along the way we have to shed some blood during the course of a revolution it means something different. our political heroes include people like barbara to me dedicated along with pat moynihan powerbook several years ago the broken branch but includes people like lugar and people who've been strong conservatives. if you read lugar's statement after his defeat that reflected a considerable degree of bitterness but also was an eloquent statement about what we need in our political process and this is in a statement coming from a guy that said i'm just your everyday moderate in fact they said in the course of this campaign why don't you just become an independent he said i'm a republican and i've always
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been one. i believe in the values of small government, less taxes and all the things that reflect what conservatism was and presumably ought to be but that isn't enough now. jack said today in reaction to lugar's defeated if we continue to move towards purity we will move to your relevance and along the way the country in effect is going to go down the tubes. that i think is a clarion call and you get the clarion call coming from people liked chuck hagel and the lugar and jack danforth not just from us that all to shake people about where we are and where we are going. and what we would hope has happened is with a degree of penetration that still put us from the "washington post" piece before the book is that all that
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credibility that we have built up would get out there and designate with people but this isn't just a couple people coming from one end of the spectrum saying it is all the fault of the people of the other end and this isn't 100% default of one party. there is plenty of blame to go around but this is the case of the system that's grown in this function as one party and has become an insurgent out lawyer. it means not to disappear. it needs not to become so pure, it needs not to move back to where it was when we had a system that had plenty of imperfections but that work to solve problems by finding ways to create the legitimacy behind the decisions we make. >> there's two things i want to say but before i introduce susan, the first is one of his great fly and fight heard as we've been talking about this book is understand we believe democrats move from the 40-yard
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line to the 25-yard line but the others have moved to some point out side of the stadium all together. >> another is of journalists, politicians would say look, we politicians have thin skin but journalists have no skin. so it is an act of both great graciousness and susan has kindly agreed to join us today. susan is the washington bureau chief today where she writes about a bipartisan national politics and has won a slew of awards, the gerald ford prize for distinguished presidency, the smith award for deadline reporting on the presidency, the award for coverage of the presidency and a whole lot of other awards for. she's been on pbs on msnbc and she received her bachelor's
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degree from northwestern, a master's in journalism from columbia where she was a pulitzer fellow and followed by mickey edwards that is a lecturer at princeton university woodrow wilson school of public policy and international affairs. a republican member of commerce from oklahoma for 16 years and he was a member of the republican leadership and served on the budget and appropriations committees. he's taught in addition to teaching at princeton he's taught at harvard and georgetown, she shares various task forces for the constitution project at brookings for the council on foreign relations and was vice president and director of the aspen institute's public leadership program and his latest book, the party versus the people, how to turn republicans and democrats into americans would be published by university press the summer and i promise before you leave mckee will baptize all of you.
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[laughter] -- thank you. it is a great pleasure to be here with really for people with whom i have so much at our asian and i've quoted so many times and in so many stories. i have a little bit of news which is i found out the title of the next book coming out between tom and norm sciu can find from the past the 1992 book by renewing congress sounds pretty positive. 2000 the permanent campaign. maybe not entirely positive but at least pretty neutral. the broken branch now it's even worse than it looks. run for your life -- after that they are just going to be marching up and down holding a
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sign. they take on many institutions in washington and elsewhere and let me talk for a minute about some of the things they say about the news media which is appropriate to criticize how we do our jobs and how they affect check institution something i think journalism is doing more things like truth telling on tv ads and a lot of organizations including my own trying to do this year. i think that there have been some moves in the last few years to do what you just talk about someone says something is black and someone says something is white you shouldn't just say she says it's white and she says it's black and the truth i think of the specific story lines in the journalists to be more willing to call someone saying
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the truth or not is to hold further movement because we found early on in the obama campaign for years ago that it wasn't enough to say the voter i interviewed said he was born in kenya. obama denies being born in kenya. that didn't tell their readers fully enough of what the truth was and so i think you will see the mainstream media when this comes up a lot of times you have to say so and so said he was born in kenya. however he would go on and stayed as fact what we believe to be true. the other thing has pushed journalism in the direction that you want them to go is climate change because there was a time when i think a lot of news outlets would report climate change skeptics with kind of an equal force with people in the
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climate change and now want the when you see reports on this in the mainstream press it is an overwhelming predominance in favor of climate change or be leaving in climate change. the one thing there is nothing in this book -- the one thing i think might get kind of underestimated in this book is the degree to which the fiscal analysis is a cultural traits with a whole group of voters. if you look at the criticism that richard lugar made -- richard murdock murdoch's defense of himself it's the same thing. he said he doesn't want to legislate. he said i don't want to legislate. he said we will make the compromises necessary to get things done. murdoch said that is exactly what i want to do. if you let me i will for sand and the gear of the government and prevent things from getting done. i don't agree with a consensus what is done in washington for so long. i am pursuing a different path.
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that is true with the rise of the tea party movement in 2010. voters that voted for the tea party candidates were not tracked into the kind of tactics that supporters of the tea party movement were going to follow once they got to washington. they said that they were willing to take the government to the edge of a cliff on something like the debt ceiling and over the cliff because they said there was the only way that they could achieve the kind of political ends that they wanted to see so it seems the fundamental problem here is dealing with a lack of the government and a disconnect between the federal government and the suspicion that has led a significant portion of americans to want to elect candidates who do exactly what they said they were going to do which is stop things from happening in washington regardless.
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estimate of one to collect one thing the would advise you all and i realize among others we are joined and appreciated by the ambassador who will only be baptized as american -- [inaudible] [laughter] >> he's already a citizen of minnesota. >> first is a great pleasure to be able to be here with tallman and norm. i have been a friend of theirs for a very long time. there are no political scholars who are more respected and have more credibility with the american people van tallman and norm so i am delighted to have a
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chance to be here and to help them sell as many books as possible. you are not allowed to leave. of course i work with susan and a deejay for a long time so i entry pleased to be able to be here to be part of this. it's even worse than it looks i agree with that. and every conceivable way how the decisions are made about who gets to sit on what committees of jurisdiction to offer amendments to the process.
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it is much worse. i would say there's a couple of things. what tom said at the beginning and norm has said that five. the problem isn't equal between the two political parties. the people who call themselves conservatives today have no idea what real conservatism is and they are preaching some kinds of weird ideas they may not even understand what the constitution is. so i am not going to take the role of defending the republican party had all. i will say that it may be that this book could do a better job of arguing that there is also spoke on the other side. nancy pelosi is a good friend of
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mine and has been for a long time. but when barack obama wanted to reach out and work with republicans, nancy said, as you remember, we won the elections, we will write the bills. when the democrats were controlling the house what they've done before and what they've done since is to us closed rules to prevent amendments from being offered. so i do not dismiss at all the criticisms of the republican party and i agree it's become more locked in against compromise which is the essential ingredient of the nation of 320 million people. it's not a consensus, it is compromise. to shut it off as the republican hardy has done is a terrible
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problem but let's not -- >> they've also been partners in the sand and just a couple of u.s. house members have lost in their primaries as part of the democratic purification process. so, what we have here is a system where both parties are -- that's the reason why the subtitle in the book is written not by me but the other in the atlantic magazine turning republicans and democrats because they're focused on party, focused on party advantage. how do we win the next election. and i have argued that -- i think tom and more have come to grips with this, too read a large part of the problem as systemic so when you look a what happened in indiana at all the was a bad thing that he lost but when he lost, he lost in the republican primary. when robert benet wallsten utah
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in the republican primary and joe lieberman lost in connecticut in the democratic primary, when mike castle lost in delaware he lost in the republican primary, and i don't know what would have happened if lugar had been able to run the among all of the voters in indiana but we have created a system in which the parties themselves can prevent the voters in the state from being able to choose among other options so you have the parties that are dominated by the people that have the most partisan, the most ideological and that is one moves the process forward. the dewitt in the congressional redistricting and as i mentioned in how the parties choose. i think tom is a great body and a very smart and knows a lot about economics i would sit on your brady would be perfect on the ways and means would be good
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for america and i will put you on the ways and means committee if you promise in advance you are going to stick with the party line on these three or four things. so i guess what i am saying is to make this book even better than it is and it is a superb book it would have to be three times as long as because the problems are not only in the people of our elective and how they believe that it is the system that allows these people to dominate and become official decision makers in washington. so having that thrown in there i would say this is a really good book. it is superb the and i agree with what norm said. given their reputations which are sterling it took a lot of courage to write a book like this and i admire them both for doing it. >> i am such a country and i feel like turning on my friends now.
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[laughter] i can't do that but here is what i would like to ask and then also again, i want to remind people, especially the people who are listening on the webcast data and send their thoughts using of the hash tag even worse. i'm going to turn to christi in the second when she has some comments. let me start with a question to you and to susan because the question to you is mckee has really laid out in a sense the question that people want you to answer which is you have really singled out the republicans and you say they are the insurgent out fliers and then mckee said the democrats have done a lot of things wrong, too. can you sort of explain why, and tom as well if you want to comment on this but norm has expressed an interest in answering this before. one of the republicans really are different. and then to susan i will just
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give you some time to think about it i am sympathetic and i write an opinion column but i am sympathetic to the press here's what hit me this morning looking at the coverage of lugar which is during this primary lugar was regularly described as a moderate and i looked up their rating from the american conservative union. the american conservative rating is 77%. if that is moderate that is a spectrum pretty skewed to the right because she is already more than three-quarters of the way over to the right and that struck me that fought very language the reporter's use in that being a concession to radically change the situation and it doesn't even acknowledge it. so it would like you to think about that. >> i want to say good things about the panelists --
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[laughter] it is a thrill to have these people here with us. they are role models. and i could add to that pentium of heroes from the time he was in congress to the time he was a country and because he stood up for the constitution and for article 1 the word trashing it for their own public local purposes so he really is a true conservative and the kind to solve problems and susan as the journalist we used to have a lot more of. having said that a lot of what mckee said is true there are no angels. democrats have manipulated the process, dispensed with the regular order and particularly during that 40-hour period they are in the majority and especially towards the end of it it became arrogant, condescending toward the minority, misused the rules and often would use the proxy, or in committees to have one person
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shot and thrown out every minority amendment just because they could. one way to express the difference is if you look at what happened after 2,000 george w. bush gets elected. after the most controversial election, 36 days to decide, no coattails all and in a very weakened position in the popular vote it just reminds people can do but have been easy for democrats to stomp all over him right from the beginning and basically damage the weakened presidency. first thing is bush pushed to initiatives when he got there. no child left behind and tax
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cuts. no child left behind moves through in a model bipartisan fashion with the impetus coming from george miller and ted kennedy, liberal democrats. now, you can say well, they like that policy. but the fact is that in doing so, they gave legitimacy to bush and made his presidency stronger. a democratic votes enable the tax cuts to go through what are you like them or don't like them. then we had 9/11 and rallying both parties behind the range of legislation some of which was quite controversial but almost unanimous support. then you move on to the t.a.r.p. program rejected first by republicans and it was democrats that saved. all i compare that to two things. first is what happened with the president who came in under not the same circumstances but without some great momentum or mandate and that was bill clinton in 1993 and the first
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thing that happens is every republican votes against this economic plan in both houses acting like a parliamentary minority and then a series of programs including the health care plan was a contraceptive to make sure he couldn't get what he wanted to be and it's also true that he couldn't keep his own democrats together and they have some culpability but a very significant difference. and then you move on to 2009 and. we have a president that has been elected in a landslide with enormous coat tails of bass line of where the public wanted a president who comes in with a 70% approval rating in the the worst economy since the great depression. three and a half weeks into his presidency he has his economic stimulus plan. now you can argue and i think that we would that is a plan largely hatched in the democratic rooms but it also had more than a third of almost 40%
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of tax cuts. and the single largest tax cut was the extension of the alternative minimum tax which came from chuck grassley who voted against the plan. three and a half weeks and not a single republican in the house votes for it and three in the senate not including those that had most of their amendments at it and then we move on from there to not a single one voting for any significant initiative. that to me represents a difference. and a difference would suggest a willingness to find out how you can solve some problems even if there are other places you want to stop. a contrast between where the parties are now so there are no angels here but we really do have one party that is not that far from the midfield area although it has moved and the other party is behind it.
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>> did you hear any of what norm said? >> i think the problem is with both sides. as i said, the republicans are worse. i don't like the bull post framing because it depends on who decides where the middle of the field is and so a lot of republicans would probably say well yes, but we said for 40 years we don't want to go there and now our failure to go there doesn't mean that the change to become that the problem that i see coming and it bothers me, i think it is worse on the republican side. but we do have on the issue after issue. i don't know whether the next nominee for the supreme court will be nominated by barack obama or mitt romney putative i don't know who will get the chance to make the nomination
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but i will tell you now nobody in the room knows who will be but every democrat if it is obama that nominates that person every democrat will vote for him or her and every republican will vote against him or her because that is the situation that we've got is it all comes down to mine against yours and so are think that is the basic problem. both parties are in a mixed election not worried about solving problems but i do agree republicans have been the worst, more in her lockstep, less willing to engage on the issues and what richard murdock was saying norm was quoting mr. early typical at least to the republicans that take part in the primaries. >> can you address the question that i asked it struck me it
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seems the press is allowing one party to redefine where the middle is without acknowledging. >> i think words matter so don't think it is inconsequential whether they are in reports the indianapolis star for instance called the moderate or conservative especially in a climate where that was a weapon doubles used against him in the republican primary. maybe we need to retire the word moderate from being used in washington because we have nobody in the middle. as the book points out in the study of congressional records, there is no republican with a more liberal record than the most conservative democrat so now we have literally zero overlap between the two parties. maybe moderate is not a word that we should be using to but i think that you make a good point. lugar has a conservative voting record and history, half a
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century in government as the mayor and then in the senate so he's a conservative but i think the reason that reporters have called him up moderate is not because of his voting record but it's because of his manner and in this climate he has a moderate manner he is willing to talk to democrats and willing to work with sam and engage with president obama on issues and there are some liberal democrats that you don't consider moderate in manner so maybe that is the language that we should be more careful with. >> can i just follow up? i think susan is right. it's about more than ideology. it really is and they would be a mistake to say this is nothing but the ideological polarization of the party. it also has to do with the sort of process of politics and the belief in the legitimacy of the
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other side and a willingness to engage in a real give-and-take. barney frank got along pretty well with his ranking republicans spencer bachus but once the finishing committee even though many of his ideas were included i can't possibly support you on the floor because sort of my party has a strategy. it's a political strategy that i can't do anything about it. but mickey is right. there is a dynamic at work here that affects both parties. there is just no question about it and we may not play that up enough in the book. we certainly believe it that there is so much now strategic partisan behavior. it's happening because the parties are operating at a level
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of parity so that each election there is a change of party control in the white house and majority control of the house and the senate and so there is a kind of relentlessness to think in those strategic terms and both engage in that. so in that sense i am with mickey completely. but right now there is a sort of fundamental difference between democrats and republicans. republicans partly because they are constituencies that believe the government has suddenly gotten out of hand. it's just too big and expensive, taxes are too high and anything associated in the government accept for the defense department is counterproductive
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in the good thing. the democrats for their part who once were insurgence themselves are now a more diverse party and they are a party that is protective of government to some extent, especially the major elements of the inherited regime going back to teddy roosevelt and woodrow wilson continuing through franklin roosevelt and frankly richard nixon who is responsible for a good part of the domestic policy apparatus of the country. they are realistic. they are not liable by the liberals wanting, you know, wanting to socialize activities. it's a joke. the understand that the demographic forces at work and
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health care cost increases will make programs that day and most americans think absolutely essential, unstable and weekend overtime, so they are fully willing to engage in those negotiations. whenever i see a press report republicans say no new taxes and our entitlement programs i say which democrats? the present isn't saying it, the leadership of the parties are not saying it to be a they are perfectly prepared. so everyone understands if you are serious about deficits and debt you don't begin your program and as paul ryan has with major new tax cuts and then imagine how you are going to
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sort of put that together in the end, that is a fundamental different. they are protective and therefore the permanent campaign hardball but they are not prepared to put at risk the full faith and credit of the united states. they are not prepared really to shut the government down. they just won't do that because they believe the government plays an important role. and i think conservatives, real conservatives want the government that they have and not a bit more or that they need, but they are not -- they are not wild and crazy about just dumping on that. and i think we have -- it is almost a radical perspective,
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not a conservative perspective against one that is more protective of the government, and i think the difference is real. >> i just want to throw out a theory that you can keep in the back of your head and i want to go to the hash tag even worse caucus where we have some comments. one theory is all bill clinton's the five false and i would explain that by saying that starting in the 1990's, moderate republicans began leaving the party in large numbers and places like the counties around philadelphia. and so the john heinz republicans are not republicans anymore and you have created an entirely different republican primary witness for what happened in delaware and indiana. i will just leave that there and somebody can comment. christine. thank you. >> first on twitter on norma's sox. [laughter] one is from a student at the american university.
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and he says if there is a systemic problem, what changes in the system to the panelists feel are most appropriate? second, michael who was also in washington, he is a self-described aspiring policy analyst, and he wants to know are the voters getting what they deserve and when are they going to wake up? >> barney frank by the way once told an angry crowd look, we politicians are no great shakes but you are no day at the beach either. [laughter] do you want to take either or both of those? >> there are systemic problems. half of this book is about what not to do and what to do. but we have to start with an acknowledgment that this is not something that is going to be solved by tinkering with the institutions or even the institutional set up. to some degree it is a cultural problem and its tribal politics
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and it's also built into a broad media system. we can talk about the primary electorate but the fact is people looking grover norquist and rush limbaugh and cable television networks and talk radio have an enormous impact. they both helped shape the zeitgeist and create conditions where politicians who might otherwise be willing to look for solutions can't because of the do, they are dead. when you watch the degree to which political figures give a base to these individuals even when they go wild, and rush limbaugh has said some things that are beyond outrageous whenever you have a political figure who just tries a little bit to say that was too much, they get their legs cut off. now what do you do when the new world of media basically tell us the business model that works is
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the fox news model that somehow the network with an audience any given time of two and a half million to make more net profits than all three network divisions within audience of 30 million people. and is that true? >> yes. $700 million of profits last year, the billionaire looks like this year. more than the three network news divisions combine the and cnn and msnbc. it is enormously successful and if they abandon that business model if fox news tomorrow said all right here is the new message, can't we all just get along? we may not like what this president has to do what he is a good man and we can probably find ways to work with him. i will guarantee you that within a week there will be a worse news channel that will take the old message and the 2.5 million people at any given time which is 20 million people through the course of all gravitate over there and that is where the moneymaking would be. so it's very hard to change this
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stuff. how do you create a public square where you can share a common set of facts and then the date hammer in koln over solutions? that is the challenge and we discussed at a little bit. at the same time, getting to what mckee said, we have to find ways to broaden the electorate. we are both big fans. all three of us having spent time in australia, big fans of the australian system of mandatory attendance of the polls and i won't get into the details here but basically a small sign if you don't show up, you don't have to vote for none of the above its lead for many decades the 95% turnout in australia. ..
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>> they talk about the economy, jobs, the climate, education and things that matter, and they don't use the kind of language that we use in our campaigns because you'll scare or turn off the voters in the middle. absent that, since we don't like mandatory anything here, i've now come to be a champion of a megamillions lottery where your prize, your ticket is your vote stub. [laughter] and if you look at the last megamillions where people, you know, camped out three days in advance to be able to get a ticket where, of course, let's face it, the chance of winning was less than being struck by lightning twice in a day/. [laughter] you know, put a few hundred million dollars into this, and
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we'll up our turnout significantly. open primaries are, i think, an easier way to move in that direction. a lot of things can be done, and we've got to do some changes inside the system including the filibuster. >> can i add a word? >> please. >> i think the two questions really go together; that is, how to make it better and isn't it the public's fault after all? i think those things fit very well together. if you have a mismatch, if you have ideologically-polarized parties operating in a separation of powers system, you can, one, try to alter the parties over time, and that's what norm's been talking about, ways of moderating parties. and the best way to do it is to expand the electorate as much as possible because those who do not now participate are ones with less absolutely committed
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and polarized views. and, you know, a reinforcement for australia and the dozens of other democracies that have some form of mandatory attendance at the polls. the other thing is you say, okay, we've got these parties, let's have a political system in which they can get something done. that means fundamental reform of the senate. i believe the united states senate is today the most dysfunctional legislative body in the democratic world. the very processes that in the past -- and i'm looking out at senator sasser here -- in the past would lead people to come together across party lines to try to work out some agreement now do just the opposite. they reinforce the absolute
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partisan divide between the parties and individual senators have come to so abuse the individual holes that, frankly, that sort of the partisanship and the culture is such that the senate cannot function under its current rules. and that, that's a big change. that's needed. one final thing. thinking of change and the public. sure, it's the public's fault. they, you know, they got frustrated and angry because the economy didn't improve, and they changed the team in power. after two years in 2010 and created a divided-party government and a republican majority that believed it had a public mandate to do just what they said they would do, and they worked hard to do it. and the public hated it. so in a sense, you know, they get -- they got what they asked
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for if not consciously, unconsciously. but that's, in a sense, that's asking too much of the public. it'd be nice if every member of the public was registered to vote and voted and kind of had the knowledge of a typical attendee of the new england-style town meeting. but, hey -- >> at a brookings seminar, please. >> or a brookings semimar. of. [laughter] it's not going to happen. people are busy. it's hard just keeping life whole without investing in two hours of reading of the times and "the wall street journal" every day. but it does mean we've got to figure out what a way. it's very hard in our constitutional system to make the choices more clear to hold individuals accountable. divided-party government has become the bane of american democracy of now. it worked under other
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conditions, it doesn't work now. >> thank you. mickey has some ideas x i want to bring him back in, but i want to sort of turn to the audience. do we have some mics to circulate? we've got a lot of hands here. this gentleman right up front. yes, sir. >> um, and then right behind you. sir? >> lorenzo morris, howard university. when you look for an explanation of an, an external explanation of behavior and the more rigid-leaning republican party, norman ornstein said that -- well, you all said it was the voters at some level. referring particularly to the fox news profitability and the inevitability of money following the more extremist ideas in the media and elsewhere. so the question to me is, to what extent can that link of the money to the media be linked to the great erie squidty of the republican party whether it's in campaign finance or elsewhere?
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the public insinuation into the process is one that's foo sill tated -- facilitated by media-guided and influenced by idealogically-imbalanced money, is that going to have a greater reflection or has it had a greater reflection in the current condition of the republican and democratic parties? >> thank you. that's a great and highly relevant question. the gentleman right behind. by the way, the maintainingaway is what will the on eurozone do with the idea of wolf news? >> hi, i'm eliza carney from roll call. acknowledging there is a conservative wing of the gop that has gained influence, is it really fair to say they represent the party as whole? that's part one of my question. and, two, is it possible that these folks play a valuable role in making it easier for moderates in both parties including the president to make the tough decisions about things like entitlements and taxes? >> now there's an optimistic view. thank you so much.
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and then right behind you. >> um, i notice that mr. ornstein's pantheon of heroes he called it, none of them are still in congress today or mr. lieu bar won't be in a few months. it seems that once they are on their way out or are out the door, alan simpson is a great i can't example, they say all the right things. what would you suggest that we do as public or others do to encourage politicians in office to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do? >> um, tom, you can start on -- and especially i'm curious because you've done so much work on that money question, and then whatever you wanted to say before. and then i guess we're supposed to -- are we close or past the time? >> no. >> oh, good. i usually go over -- >> we've got lots of time. we have many fascinating questions pending, most of which haven't yet been answered. let me try to run think a couple
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of them. eliza, no. [laughter] the conservative wing is now the party. it's been embraced by the party. its agenda has been embraced by the leadership. the chairman of the budget committee, paul ryan, a very able member, is the architect of that agenda which would make every tea partier very happy. so it's indistinguishable. and they in no way provide cover for all those moderates who want to do the right thing. i don't think said people exist in the republican party. listen, the answer is eviscerate grover norquist's no new tax pledge. that alone would free the republican party to engage in good faith, substantive
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negotiations. everybody knows it. our taxes at the -- are now at a historic low in the contemporary era, and they're going to go up sort of naturally, and if with the aging of the population i guarantee you we'll be somewhere around 23% of gdp. wouldn't it be nice if we could acknowledge that and say what's the most sensible, efficient way to structure a tax system? probably a progressive consumption tax directed in ways to accomplish a whole host of objectives. but as long as you have that pledge to which members sign, it's hopeless. the republican party cannot be a player in any constructive resolution of the problems confronting the country. gary, there is no political space for a third party to occupy. it's based on a presumption we
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have two extreme parties, and there is this great center to mobilize. and i'm deeply skeptical that there's room for such a party, and it would really play a constructive role. is it going to get worse than it is now instead of just looking worse? and are we enroute to the status of greece? not at all. i mean, the, i mean, the simple truth is we're almost close to a position where the status quo would solve our problems. that is, that is to say the expiration of the tax cuts pretty much take care of our intermediate deficit problem, and implementation and the cost-saving measures strengthened over time in the aca would deal with our long-term health care problems. so the we're not that far away,
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and we have other tremendous strengths in our country that would allow us to make the kind of investments to transform the economy, to deal with the reality of stagnant wages and a sense of diminished opportunities. we have strengths. welcome do it. we need -- we can do it. we need the public to rein in behavior that's destructive, and we need political leaders to act forcefully. we've given enough to bipartisan commissions and searched enough for bipartisan consensus. it's time for sensible hardball politics along these lines. >> norm, i'd like -- and i'd particularly like you to take the money question. >> yeah. >> because i understand -- i've forgotten their names, a couple of political sign difficults had a great chart that showed that party polarization in congress was directly correlated with
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increasing concentrations of wealth, increasing inequality went together with partisan polarization. >> right. and, you know, the money question you can handle in so many different ways. i am really concerned about a post-citizens united system with the a federal election commission that's completely out of control and with other agencies unable to do anything about it. and a lot of money coming in in ways that intimidate political actors and tilt the policy process in a very bad way n a way that will only enhance inequality. and if you look at this one example from north carolina where you had a group of agricultural interests who wanted to influence the legislature on an ag bill, and they compared a bunch of model commercials that would destroy members of the legislature. put them on the ipad, wenten in to see them, and it had nothing to do with agriculture. it basically defined them as, you know, child-molesting aliens out to destroy the fabric of
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america and showed them the commercials and said, you know, if we don't get what we want, millions of dollars could be spent on commercials just like this. and they got what they wanted and didn't have to spend any money. and the idea this is not corrupting, anthony kennedy lives on a different planet in a different universe than the real world of what we face. so there's all of that to deal with. and we're getting model legislation being written, basically, by outside interests that just gets plugged right in. it's the gilded age brought up to the 21st century, and nothing that we want. i want to take a little -- i always like to find places where i can take issue with tom. [laughter] so i want to address the question of, eliza's question. i actually don't believe that the right wing -- now what's out there representing the republican party represents the republican partiment of we have survey after survey that shows self-identified republicans do not take those same positions. the tea party consists of a lot
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of older voters who have no clue what the ryan budget would do on entitlement programs that they don't want touched for themselves, just for others. so it's not clear to me that all of this will play out necessarily the way that they want. and i believe there are problem solvers still in congress. they are completely intimidated from being able to play that role. but you still have a few who have taken out to do so. mike crapo, saxby chambliss and tom coburn and, not to mention dick durbin on the other side actually stepped out on a limb here. and it'll tell you where we are in tribal politics that when barack obama praised the gang of six, an aide to a senior republican in the senate immediately sent an e-mail to politico saying that kills that plan. if he's for it, we're against it. this is not less about ideology now than it is about tribalism. so that's a challenge that we have, and it's not encouraging moderates or providing space, it's intimidating them.
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every time that, you know, getting to the question, every time we get people who leave congress, we get these republicans who leave, and it's like you've been inside a tent where you're breathing a gas, and suddenly you're outside and you say how could i have done that, how could i have acted that way? so one of our ideas is to create a shadow congress that consists of former members who span the spectrum but who start with a common set of facts and maybe have them debate not in the way that congress used to because congress never was a great debating society, but genuine debates and discussions that aren't going to have huge audiences, but you can provide a model for how voters who yearn to have some real discussion of what our options are. you can start with the notion that there is something to climate change and then have a great debate over whether you do anything, whether you do a lot, whether you do it with a carbon tax or do it with a cap and trade program or through some other mechanism that could actually give people a sense of what our tough choices are
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instead of having people who say, gee, maybe scientists have something, and then they're thrown out unceremoniously. small steps that may provide us with some opportunities to change the dialogue. >> and just -- >> please, yes. >> -- quickly. we had a "usa "usa today"/gallup poll, a third of republicans -- not leaners, but people who describe themselves as members of the republican party -- when we asked them their ideology called themselves moderates or liberals, a third of the party. and in this particular poll for the first time republicans lost their enthusiasm advantage in the race because declining enthusiasm among that group, moderate and liberal republicans. so there's not a republican in washington who would describe themselves as a moderate or liberal. >> right. >> but a third of republicans in the country do. >> and then they lose primaries. >> yeah. [laughter] well, there's that. >> just to eliza's point, rahm emanuel liked to say that the republican party is deeply
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divided between its small government wing and its no government wing. [laughter] and i do think that is -- if there is a truth within that barb. i am told we are now at our time. i want mickey to come back in and a couple of closing comments. incidentally, the part of this book that hasn't gotten as much attention and susan mentioned it, i liked the bromides we should ignore or chapter which i i will just read you, the american political system will correct itself? no. third party rescue? no. a constitutional balanced budget amendment? no. term limits, they say no and full public financing of elections, they say no. but then they have a whole bunch of things they say yes to, and i propose you have your shadow congress, and then we can have an election between the shadow congress and the current congress -- [laughter] and then we can see who wins. let me invite everybody to do closing comments. let's start with mickey. >> well, okay. just going down a couple of these, does this represent the republican party as a whole, as
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susan just said, no. but it does represent those who vote in primaries. and so, you know, it's a matter of you can't be on the ballot. every state in the united states except four has a sore loser law which means if you've lost your primary, you can't appear on the ballot in november. those need to go. but, i mean, so it's the primary voters who are represented in the party. secondly, in terms of what can we do about it, you know, i don't know how many of you or how many of your friends -- i assume it's all of you -- show up at a town meeting, show up where your member of the house or senate is present, participate in the elections, call in to the radio and tv shows. in other words, we need to get the citizens engaged. the citizens aren't crazy. 42% of the american people are now registered as independents, you know? they're fleeing from the party. but they need to be at those meetings. they need to confront, they need
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to be confrontational with their representatives and senators and say we're not going to vote for you if you behave this way. the final thing of the question about can it become more repressive? you know, i got to testify on behalf of the american bar association to a committee in the house when the president, previous president announced, you know, through his various signing statements that he would decide for himself whether or not he had to obey the laws. and every republican saw nothing wrong with that. the, there are -- i, you know, democracy is not about policy. it's not about policy outcomes. it's about process. and i think as long as we continue to focus on do whatever we need to do to get the policy outcome we want, to hell with process, to hell with the constitution. you know, is it more repressive?
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you know, how do you define repressive? how about wiretapping without a warrant, is that repressive? so i do think we're more on a slippery slope than some people would want to admit. >> susan? >> well, just briefly saying what an achievement it is to write a policy book about washington that gets sold out on amazon. so congratulations to our two authors here. >> tom and then norm. >> i want to thank my colleagues, mickey and susan and e.j., of course. you know, we're really with you. it's a very negative-sounding title, but we too agree with you that there are things we can do building up, small things that can help produce a larger and more informed electorate, changes we can make that would allow the public to hold officials accountable in a way
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that's very difficult to do now that in the end clear signals from the public and responsible institutional changes especially within, within the senate and sort of political leaders willing to sort of lay it out and not just say we all have to come together, but listen. this is, this is how we must begin and be forceful. there is a bright future for the country. i'm pretty optimistic. >> i would just say, finally, a couple of pleas. first, please buy the book. [laughter] second, please buy e.j.'s bike and, please, buy mickey's book. and, please, susan, write a book. [laughter] [applause] >> thank you all very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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>> is there a nonfiction author or book you'd like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at booktv@c-span.org or tweet us at twitter.com/booktv. >> a more private first lady, elizabeth monroe refused to continue the tradition of making social calls to washington's political society. she spoke french inside the white house and gained a reputation of being queenly by her critics. we'll explore her relationship with her husband, james monroe, and close friendship with her successor, louisa katherine adams who was the only first lady born outside the u.s. we'll see the important role she played in the 1824 campaign of her husband, john quincy adams, and her complex relationship with her mother-in-law, former first lady abigail adams. we'll include your questions and comments live monday night at 9 eastern on c-span and c-span3, also on c-span radio and
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c-span.org. >> this weekend booktv is in alexandria, virginia, with the help of our local cable partner, comcast. all weekend long watch tours of the city, hear from local authors and learn about some of the important historic, literary and cultural sites in the area. next, we bring you the story of the sit-in of 1939. >> 1939 five african-americans were arrested at the alexandria city library as they tried to obtain their library cards. attorney samuel tucker was behind this early sit-in which resulted in the creation of a separate library for its black residents. we traveled to the site of the original sit-in, still a city library, and to the place where the black library was built. today an african-american history knew scheme to tell the story of samuel tucker and the five people arrested that day. >> august 21st of 1939, five
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young african-american men who were not allowed to use the library came in, and each one politely asked for a library card. they were denied. each man picked up a book, sat down at a separate table, and the library staff just didn't know what to do with that. the african-american community of alexandria paid taxes, followed ore laws, but they were not allowed to take part in the things that every alexandria citizen was allowed to take part in. this was part of a program that young a young local attorney named samuel tucker had been working on for some time. >> samuel tucker was a native of alexandria, really got a taste of wanting to be a lawyer for two reasons. one, there was a lawyer here in town, thomas watson, who rented space from tucker's father, and he became fascinated with what lawyer watson did. and then the other was that he took a trip on a streetcar with his brothers into d.c., and they were coming back from d.c., and
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they were asked to move from their seats once the train, the streetcar got into alexandria by a white patron who was there, and they refused. actually, i believe it was tucker's brother otto who refused to move from his seat. and when they got off the streetcar, the woman followed them and flagged down a policeman and had the young men arrested. and luckily, the charges were thrown out because, um, the boys were really scared that charges would not be thrown out, but the judge felt like they hadn't created any disturbance, and they weren't trying to do anything that was illegal. but it gave tucker a sense that being a lawyer gave you some kind of power to make things right. >> before 1939 he had an african-american sergeant named george wilson who was a world war i veteran. he had worked with wilson to come into the library and apply for a card. wilson had been denied on technical grounds. the wilson case didn't go very far. the city was able to drag its
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feet and slow things down, so what samuel tucker did was to go to the neighborhood, find a large group of young men who were willing to volunteer to, basically, be arrested. it was a fairly large number initially, but it turns out on august 21, 1939 there were just five men who were available. they got dressed up in their best clothing, ties, i mean, everyone perfectly groomed. they came in, they asked to, for library cards and were denied. and tucker had, one of the younger brothers of one of these young men waiting outside. as soon as he heard the police were being called, tucker came over with a photographer, this florence murray, who took the one shot that we have of the policemen and the young men coming out of the building. and it was -- tucker had instructed them to be very polite, very quiet, and it was very sedate. he didn't want anyone being arrested for disturbing the peace. >> it was interesting because
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tucker had to fight armstead booth who was the city attorney at the time. the case went to court, but the young men really didn't do anything wrong, they just wanted to read. and tucker had another case that was going on, a case of a retired army sergeant, sergeant wilson, and that really sort of started the sit-in idea. he wanted wilson to be able to get a library card, and wilson tried, and he was turned down even though he paid taxes in the city. he was not allowed to get a library card. this court case, um, so there were two cases going on at the same time. the court case for wilson and the court case for the five young men during the sit-in. armstead booth, i think, understood that the men weren't doing anything, and there was no reason to send these five young men to jail or to make them serve any time for what they did or give them really any sort of punishment. so it's been said that he asked for continuance after
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continuance in the court case and, eventually, the charges were dropped. for the wilson case, the main issue was they were saying that when -- that the library, the alexandria free library was for alexandria citizens. wilson's case was that he was a citizen of alexandria. during the court case, they said that wilson did not make it clear when he went to the librarian that he was a citizen so, therefore, she had a perfect right not to issue a library card to him. eventually, the case was solved in that they were going to issue -- they issued, they went back, tucker went back with wilson, and katherine issued him a card but not for the alexandria library, but for the robert robinson library that was built for african-american citizens in 1940 came out of the 1939 sit-in that occurred on august of 1939 at the alexandria -- or what was then known as the alexandria free library. they admitted he was a citizen

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